Patenting food recipes in India


The most obvious question is whether patent of food is possible. Yes, of course, you can patent your unique recipe. However, there are certain things which the patentee needs to bear in mind before applying for a patent for his/her food recipes. The patent application for the food recipe needs to be drafted carefully. For a patent application to get granted, the food recipe will need to satisfy three requirements: Novelty, Non-obviousness, and Industrial Applicability. Additionally, the food recipe cannot be a “mere admixture of substances resulting in aggregation of properties of the components” according to Section 3(e) of The Patents Act.

The food recipe patent can be drafted to either claim the process or the composition(ingredients) used to make the food item. In India process claims have higher acceptance rate. The process to make the food recipe including steps such as baking, heating, stirring, grinding and so on, if found novel and inventive, then there is a higher chance of acceptance. If there is a novel step involved which results in the increase in the shelf life or provides nutritional benefits, claiming the same can improve the chances of getting a patent grant. For instance, a procedure of preserving food products to disable the microorganisms in food products by enabling an edible phenolic compound in food and the outcome is subjected to the high-pressure conditions.

Let’s consider an example of an already granted patent in India, “Preparing a sugar free bread [Application no 483/DEL/2004]. Although the process to prepare a bread is well-known and obvious to anyone skilled in the field, the granted patent deals with mixing of few ingredients which result in a Sugar Free bread. The application focused mainly on illustrating the preparation through process claims.

From above information we can clearly summarize that drafting of the patent plays a key role in food-based patent applications. Standards such as ingredients, proportions, mixing or cooking time should be kept as broad as possible to discourage potential competition from writing around the claims with small variations. For example, if you are mixing sugar in your recipe, then claiming the ingredient as sweetener (which might include honey, corn syrup etc) rather than as sugar will provide much wider protection to the food patent. Another thing to keep in mind is that the ranges claimed should not only safeguard your invention but also not be broad enough to violate another’s patented recipe. Additionally, if in case your recipe doesn’t satisfy the requirements to be patented, don’t get discouraged, there is always an alternative available. You can go ahead and include that recipe in a book or magazine and obtain copyrights for the recipe or you can always keep the recipe as a trade secret and prevents others from copying your recipe.

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Best regards – Team InvnTree   

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 3.0 Unported License

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